With this weekend’s UFC 257 pay-per-view, we will see the return of Conor McGregor to the octagon.
And while that alone will dominate the headlines, there are plenty more angles to look at this Saturday.
Today we’ll break down some of the storylines heading into UFC 257 and how they will shape a large portion of the year for the UFC.
The Return of McGregor
Yes, as mentioned previously, Conor McGregor is making his return to the UFC for the first time since January of last year. While this isn’t the only storyline for the weekend, it would be irresponsible not to discuss it. Conor has not fought since last January in a dominant win over UFC legend Donald “Cowboy” Cerrone.
With such a long lay-off between fights, we have to wonder how Conor will look this time, against a former interim Lightweight Champion in Dustin Poirier. The stakes are incredibly high for both men in this fight. For Conor, it’s his return to the UFC against a high-level opponent and he will not want to come up short.
Also, and this applies to both men, the Lightweight division is in somewhat of a state of limbo. We will discuss this more later on, but the winner of this fight could very well be challenging for the Lightweight title in the near future.
Finally, Dustin Poirier will look to avenge his loss in the first fight against McGregor over five years ago.
Michael Chandler’s UFC Debut
The former Bellator Lightweight Champion, Michael Chandler is making his UFC debut this weekend in the co-main event against Dan Hooker in a fight to truly test how Chandler fairs against the UFC’s best. Chandler made the jump over to the UFC amidst the pandemic last year and is now finally getting a chance to prove his worth.
Dan Hooker will certainly be a major test for Chandler. Having gone one and one in his last two, Hooker is very capable of pushing the pace and forcing Chandler into a brawling style of fight. Having held his own against the aforementioned Dustin Poirier and delivering a fight of the year candidate win over Paul Felder, Hooker will look to reassert himself in the upper echelon of the Lightweight division.
Whoever wins this fight could also see themselves in the title conversation this year or at the very least, in a top-five spot with likely one more win before title contention.
Khabib’s Looming Decision
It was announced on this past weekend’s UFC on ABC card that Khabib Nurmagomedov, the current Lightweight Champion who had previously retired, may be willing to fight one more time. He admitted that he does not want to hold up the division but is unsure if he will in fact return to the cage. What those alone means is that no fights on this card will be for a vacant lightweight title.
If one of these fighters impresses Khabib enough, however, he may be willing to put his title on the line one more time to change a 30-0 record. Khabib is also considering a future fight with the incredibly impressive Charles Oliveira who last defeated Tony Ferguson.
Regardless of what Khabib decides, there is so much at stake for all four Lightweight fighters competing in the co-main and main events this Saturday.
With huge title implications at stake, these two fights should be very exciting for fans.
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